• Wed. Oct 5th, 2022

Usman recalls being scammed by pizza franchise owner

ByStephanie M. Akbar

Sep 11, 2022

Former UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman has opened up about being scammed via a bogus investment opportunity regarding an Italian restaurant franchise several years ago.

Like all athletes, mixed martial artists don’t limit their success and notoriety to the cage. Whether through TV and movie appearances, popular YouTube channels and gaming streams, or paid social media partnerships and promotions, a host of notable fighters are enhancing their earnings outside of the Octagon.

One of the main sources of funding comes from businesses and investments. Most notably, former champion-champion Conor McGregor made a name for himself in the business world through an incredibly successful whiskey, clothing brand, fitness line and venture into the free home industry in Ireland.

Exploring options similar to McGregor and Dustin Poirier, Bruce Buffer and the Diaz brothers is Usman. ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ has risen to prominence in recent years thanks to a dominant reign on the 170-pound throne, which has even seen him call for a blockbuster boxing showdown with Mexican superstar Canelo Álvarez.

As expected, Usman has sought to use the wealth and fame he has accrued through MMA to explore other opportunities.

Although it was recently announced that Usman will appear in the upcoming Black Panther: Wakanda Forever movie, the 35-year-old’s search for new opportunities outside of the steel cage environment didn’t always end well…

Usman: ‘He got us for half a million’

Appearing as a guest for Joe Rogan episode #128 JRE MMA ShowUsman discussed his attempts to forge some success as a businessman – and it may have left him traumatized by pizza…

Recalling one particular investment, Usman recalled when he was convinced to invest in an Italian franchise based in Canada. The owner, who was an acquaintance of one of Usman’s friends, expressed a desire to add a South Florida location to his chain of restaurants.

“(This guy), he’s Canadian, owns this franchise; pizza-pasta franchise in Canada,” Usman began. “I met him through a mutual friend I had in Florida, a friend of mine who is a smart, business guy. The friend is like, ‘Yeah, he’s got this restaurant that already has five or six locations in Canada; I’m fine, blah, blah, blah. I happened to be in Canada, maybe in 2017 or 2018, and he was like, “Hey, come check out these restaurants.”

“I’m going to see and it’s incredible. There are crowds of people, and I have this food and it’s amazing. I’m like, ‘Okay, that’s cool, but I’m still hesitant’. I don’t know enough about it. …you know when you have this intuition, but you don’t fucking listen to it? Usman added with a laugh.

Against the advice of those around him, Usman and a number of others invested around $500,000. But after the planned restaurant in Florida was sold, the owner sold it, and again, and again…

“He (the owner) is like, ‘Okay, I’m going down, I want to do the same thing in South Florida.’ I’m always reluctant because all my advisors and my accountant say, ‘Don’t meddle in the restaurant business. Don’t do it,” Usman said. “I listen for a while, but he somehow uses on another my friends, the people around me, to reach me.

“All in all, we get a bunch of guys, a bunch of us, and he gets us for like half a million. He sells us the restaurant, one of the businesses. He got them (the others), because they were in another place, so he got them for over a million… He got us for half a million, but he turned around and sold it, at the same time, to another couple… got them for half a million,” Usman continued. “He turns around and sells it to another… he sold the same restaurant to four different people.”

Despite the elaborate scam, Usman noted that the owner still walked away unpunished for not having built the restaurant and denied ever receiving any money for it.

“The thing is, he’s still walking around,” Usman said. “Who knows how many people he did this to… All I know is he sold us a location that we paid him for, (but) was never built at the time , and now he says he didn’t get any money from us.”

Usman went on to suggest his team was exploring options, with a potential lawsuit looking likely. Either way, it looks like ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ will steer clear of the future of the restaurant business.

And given how the man who dethroned him in the cage last month celebrated his win, maybe Usman will skip the pizza, period.

What do you think of the scam Kamaru Usman fell victim to?


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